Spanish wine maker Alvaro Palacios of Palacios Remondo Winery was in Dallas recently for the Spanish promotion at Central Market and I had a chance to visit with him and sample his impressive wines from Rioja.
At 18 Alvaro knew his purpose was to be a winemaker. Yes, it was the tradition of his family, as he is a 5th generation wine maker, but he had a choice to follow in the family business or branch out on his own as several of his 8 siblings had.
He chose the wine business but didn’t want to have the it handed to him and at 25 left the family winery in Eastern Rioja to make his own wine in Priorat, though he was always tied to his family, a tradition that always remains the most important element of his life. His ventures became a success in Priorat, as well in Bierzo where he has a winery with his nephew.
Unfortunately a few years ago Alvaro’s father passed away, and maintaining that connection to his family, when his mother called and asked him to come home and run his father’s winery he obliged. Though he is changing some of what his father and grandfather had put in place, he is very much a believer in creating a wine representative of place. His Old World style allows the true flavors of a varietal to shine with noticeable respect given to the land it came from. He farms organically with sustainable practices, not because he is trying to earn his LEED certification or win a “green” award, but because this is the only way to make sure that you are producing the best wine with the purest flavors representing the terrior of the land. Beyond the goal to make the best wine for the family, there is a belief that the best vineyards are a part of the country, and there is a duty to create something special to represent your heritage.
With great passion and emotion Alvaro spoke about the beauty of a glass of wine, noting that there is a certain mysticism and magic, that there is great emotion and love that goes into a wine, along with structure, balance and elegance. When all work in unison the result is a perfect glass deeply displaying the roots it comes from.
And the wine is exceptional, with Alvaro’s goal to take the winery to new heights in his father’s memory. The winery is in the Alfaro region of Eastern Riojaclose to the Mediterranean, influencing both the flavors of the wines they grow and the actual grapes they have planted. Unlike many areas of Rioja they have more Garnacha instead of Tempranillo, using Tempranillo as a blending grape. Garnacha thrives in this area with the ability to grow and flourish in all conditions and adjust to fluctuations in the weather easily. It is a lively grape withgood acidity creating big wines that are both suitable for drinking early or for aging.
We tried several of his reds with the 2007 Propiedad being the best. Lush and earthy with layers of spice, smoke and cherry. My favorite of the tasting was his white 2008 Placet Valtomelloso made from 100% Viura. This vibrant, elegant wine meaning “pleasing” in Spanish, is filled with floral, herbal notes with good minerality and citrus aromas, balanced with a layer of creamy, tropical flavors like banana and guava. Delightful, subtle and refined, very much like Alvaro.